MARION, Va. (WJHL) – The Marion Police Department is investigating after witnesses say that what appeared to be a cross was burned in a barrel following a protest.
According to a release from Marion police, witnesses say they saw “an intense fire coming from a barrel in front of a home on the 400 block of Pearl Avenue” around 12:43 a.m. on Sunday.
When officers arrived, they extinguished the fire and saw what appeared to be wood in the shape of a cross.
Travon Brown, a member of the New Generation Freedom Fighters and New Panthers groups who have rallied in both Marion, Virginia, and Johnson City, Tennessee in past weeks against racial injustice, confirmed with News Channel 11 that the incident occurred at his home in Marion.
Brown said he could not appear on camera, but released the following statement:
Thank you to everyone who called, messaged, or checked up on me and my family. Thank you to everyone who continues to support this powerful movement. We are safe. The FBI and Marion PD are working together to find out who did this. I believe it was a scaring tactic but nevertheless it has failed. I am planning more things for our community and can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds. Black lives matter and justice shall prevail. Stay safe!Travon Brown
MPD has launched a full investigation with the help of the Smyth County Sheriff’s Office, according to the release.
The release says MPD is in the process of coordinating with federal authorities due to the nature of the crime.
Chief John Clair said in the release, “The Town of Marion Police Department is absolutely committed to ensuring that people of color in our community are safe. Our department, along with Smyth County Sheriff’s office and federal authorities, will conduct and full and thorough investigation.”
Chief Clair confirmed with News Channel 11 the FBI is now involved in the investigation.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned with News Channel 11 online and on-air for updates.